From Possible Demolition to Expensive RestorationA family feud between The Cavalier Hotel's owners led to a court-ordered sale in 2012. Subsequent inspections revealed significant concerns about the property's structural condition. There were high cost estimates for renovations.
Demolition was planned by every bidder but one group, The Cavalier Associates, a group led by Bruce Thompson, Bart Frye, George Metzger, John Lawson, Frank Reidy and Ed Ruffin.
Attorney R.J. Nutter, of the law firm Troutman Sanders, joined the project right after The Cavalier Associates were alerted of their winning bid, and recounted the difficult process which unfolded.
"The terms of the deal were very draconian," Nutter said.
When The Associates' bid was selected, they had to put down 10 percent of the purchase price up front. They also had to close the deal in two months, with no contingencies. This is difficult enough to accomplish when buying one house, much less an 85-year-old hotel and the complications surrounding it.
"Not a game for people who are weak-kneed," Nutter said.
After a lengthy path through the courts, the property was down-zoned for fewer units. This is when The Cavalier Associates went to work on closing the deal, deciding to monetize land around the hotel for residential properties.
As such, Bart Frye, a Norfolk developer with experience working with tight streets, began to lay out plans
Next was working on getting a financial package from the city.
The Virginia Beach City Council came through, granting a series of incentives to help preserve The Cavalier, including a performance-based economic development incentive grant, a green space easement for the lawn and entrance drive, another to rebuild Cavalier Drive as a public street; and much more from taxes collected on the increased value of the hotel properties.
The third phase was to secure historic tax credits.
For such an old and storied hotel, you might think this would be an easy task. Sure, it is a locally significant architecture location, as cited on the hotel's National Register of Historic Places application. And the high level of entertainment and hotel service it provided during its early years make it locally significant for recreation and social history.
Indeed, in 2014, The Cavalier made the National Register of Historic Places.